Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day 20: Lessons

Even with the sun shining outside this bright morning,
promising an early spring, I find myself asking:
What can I learn from the past
to prepare for COVID-19?
This new virus sweeps the country, masking us all,
frightening the elderly with statistics, new cases and death
spreading to nearly every state,
and the lack of testing, supplies, coherent policies,
panicking those who already are well-stocked,
leaving store shelves empty.
Last week, a few teenagers laughed, “We don’t need to worry.
The virus goes after the elderly.”
Today, some young men fought in a grocery store,
spilling beer and catsup on the floor.
What violence awaits us as we sit in our houses,
reluctant to go outside?

In the 1950’s, my grandfather built a bomb shelter
in his back yard. He dug the earth out under the house,
turned a bedroom into a library of bookshelves,
lined with cans of tomatoes and bags of flour.
At school, we learned
what to do when the bombs came.
We leaned over our desks, our right arms over our necks.
I was eight years old. I wondered how this would save me,
my face pressed against the wood.
Just as I wonder now how will we define community?
Who will care for us, the children locked out of school,
those who scrabble together a living from part-time jobs,
and those who are lost on the streets?

Isolation by Geralt (Pixabay)
Thanks to friends and family, near and far, who keep us connected. And to writers and poets Heather Carr-Rowe, Sue Eller, and Annette Drake for their encouragement.


  1. That's a good question that I think more of us could be asking -- what can we learn from the past?

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Deniz. Looking forward to seeing what you're up to!